The Beast with a Million Eyes

October 25, 2011 at 1:21 am (6 Heads, Beast with a Million Eyes) (, , , , , , )

The Beast with a Million Eyes – 1955 – United States

The Beast with a Million Eyes credits producer/director David Kramarksy. Really, it’s the spawn of Roger Corman and Samuel Z. Arkoff of American Releasing Corporation (later American International Pictures). The Beast’s production values are predictably skeletal, but the premise has imaginative flair courtesy of scripter Tom Filer who never wrote a screenplay before or since.

“Because I see your secret acts, you will know me as the beast with a million eyes.” So proclaims a reverberant voice in The Beast’s cut-up psychedelic opening. A strife-ridden family scrapes by on a desolate desert ranch. With them is a dimwitted mute ranch hand called “Him” since “He can’t talk and we don’t know his name.” After a supersonic space-shriek explodes all the family’s glassware, Him and the livestock turn homicidal. You see, an alien psychic force lives in the wasteland, thriving on hateful and violent energy. Only by bonding together and concentrating their love can the family thwart the nefarious invader.

The Beast with a Million Eyes is a misleading title. There isn’t actually a beast. The million eyes represent creatures enslaved in the alien’s hive mind. Certainly, an invisible psychic force is budget friendly, but there’s something menacing about an intangible intelligence—especially considering its amorally naturalistic outlook. Perhaps the alien is a metaphor for man’s self-absorbed instincts? Regardless, the concept results in chilling images. Dishes explode under sonic bombardment. Killer birds predate Alfred Hitchcock’s avian menace. And there’s an impish reptilian extraterrestrial too.

Don’t misinterpret my praise. The Beast is deplorably cheap. The effects are laughably obvious. The talky script is rife with logical leaps. The acting is irritating. And the heavy-handed moral belittles its audience. Disregard all that. The Beast’s metaphysical edge separates it from the numerous killer alien drive-in flicks. With more care, it might have been a philosophical classic beside the likes of Forbidden Planet (1956).

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Nearly stimulating.

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